Man pleads guilty in juvenile abuse case

ATHENS, Ohio — An Athens County man accused of abusing two juveniles while he was a juvenile himself pleaded guilty Tuesday to felony charges of felonious assault and child endangering.

Josiah Bellar, 24, entered the plea before Athens County Common Pleas Court Judge Patrick Lang, who sentenced him to five years of community control with a four-year underlying prison sentence should he violate the terms of the control, according to a release from the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office.

He is also required to complete residential mental health and substance abuse counseling at Mended Reeds Mental Health.

Bellar is one of four members of his family charged in a sexual assault investigation opened earlier this year after the victim, who disappeared as a juvenile, resurfaced after turning 18.

Josiah Bellar committed abusive acts while under the supervision of his parents Robert, 54, and Deborah Bellar, 49, of Athens. Each of them are charged with second-degree felony engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and two counts of third-degree felony endangering children. Robert and Deborah Bellar are in custody on $1 million bonds.

Josiah Bellar’s brother Jonathan, 27, also faces a charge of gross sexual imposition.

Part of the plea agreement entered Tuesday requires Josiah Bellar to testify, if needed, as the other cases develop, the release said.

The victim was in attendance and agreed with the sentencing, the release said. In a statement delivered by Athens County First Assistant Prosecutor Meg Saunders the victim described Josiah Bellar as “a human piece of garbage.”

He did did not make a statement.

In the release from the prosecutor’s office, Josiah Bellar’s attorney, Andrew Sanderson, is quoted as saying that in his 25 years of criminal defense “I don’t think I’ve ever heard of circumstances in a household that were as tragic as what Mr. Bellar found himself growing up in.”

Sanderson added that Bellar accepts responsibility for his actions and has “begun to talk about things he’s never been able to talk about before” in an effort to take his life down a different path.

“This conviction is a continuation of the state’s allegation that the parents failed in their duty to protect their children and allowed them to commit acts of abuse. That failure continued with their alleged obstruction of the investigation at every step,” said Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn.

A trial for Robert and Deborah Bellar is scheduled for March 1.

Jonathan Bellar is scheduled for a pretrial on Dec. 7.


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